New Hampshire’s First Woman U.S. District Judge Sworn In
Concord — Landya McCafferty brought extra excitement to her swearing-in ceremony Friday to a federal judgeship in New Hampshire simply by being a woman.
The former federal magistrate is the first female U.S. district judge in New Hampshire, and enjoyed praise at the official occasion from a number of other “female firsts.”
“What a joyous and historic day,” said 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sandra Lynch, who became the first woman appointed to that court, in 1995. “Today we celebrate the last of the ‘firsts.’ ”
With McCafferty’s appointment, every district in the circuit has at least one female judge. Besides New Hampshire, the circuit includes Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire’s first woman governor and senator, said that while it’s an accomplishment to be the state’s first female federal district judge, McCafferty’s gender was not what got her there.
“She was born to be a judge,” the Democratic senator said.
McCafferty previously served as a federal magistrate, a public defender, a civil litigator and disciplinary counsel to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
The senator pushed for McCafferty’s nomination, which President Obama announced in May, and the U.S. Senate confirmed by a wide margin in December.
During her confirmation hearing, McCafferty said the most important element of judicial temperament is humility.
“A judge must function at all times with the understanding that she serves the people in her courtroom, and not the other way around,” she said.
McCafferty received a standing ovation after taking the oath of office Friday, and she credited numerous mentors, including a high school history teacher from South Carolina who attended the ceremony.
“I stand here on the shoulders of (her) and so many others,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican who lobbied for McCafferty’s appointment and who served as the state’s first woman attorney general, said she couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the appointment.
Colleagues and friends who also spoke at the ceremony at the federal court building touted McCafferty’s intellect, integrity, compassion and command of technology. During her three years as a magistrate, McCafferty held “brown bag” lunches for lawyers and judges on how to use technology, particularly iPads, to improve efficiency.
She also has trained judges nationwide as a faculty member of the Federal Judicial Center.
Boston lawyer Lisa Atwood, who led the American Bar Association’s peer review of McCafferty’s qualifications, said she received the highest rating possible. She interviewed McCafferty for nearly five hours and was struck by her humility and thoughtfulness, Atwood said.
Public defender Randy Hawkes supervised McCafferty when she arrived at the Dover office from a major law firm.
“She clearly was as comfortable in the trenches as she was in the library,” Hawkes said.
McCafferty, of Portsmouth, received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law.